Life, Love and the Big Blue Sea

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears or the sea.” ~Isak Dinesen

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It is hard to believe that our time here on the Outer Banks is over, but come tomorrow morning, we will be hitting the road. The last couple of days have been spent cleaning things up and getting ready to roll. The house is clean, bikes are loaded, laundry is done, Waldo is washed. A few things will need to be stowed in the morning, but we are pretty much ready to go, and tomorrow night we will be sleeping in Maryland.

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Living alongside the ocean has been truly amazing. I quickly learned that she has as many moods as the rest of us. Sunny days found her happy, waves crashing playfully upon the shore. Other days she was meditative, hardly a wave to speak of. She apparently did not like the wind any more than I did, because on the days where the wind was the strongest, she appeared very angry, waves roaring as far out as the eye could see. But no matter what her mood seemed to be, she was always beautiful.

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I am going to miss my morning beach walks with Charbie. And hunting for seashells. And watching the kids run wildly in the waves. Sand in my shoes, daily conversations with the ocean, countless pelicans flying overhead and the beautiful sound of waves crashing upon the shore.

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I will not, however, miss the wind that has been sand blasting Waldo for the last few months. (I don’t think he is going to miss it either.) Even with the unbearable wind, though, our time here has been exceptional, and we are taking with us countless unforgettable memories. And perhaps a seashell or two.

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Something about leaving the ocean feels like leaving behind an old friend. But she will always be there, waiting patiently, no matter how long it takes us to return. And when we finally make our way back, we will pick up right where we left off. Just like the best of friends…

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“Seashells are love letters in the sand.”

Guiding Lights

“He slept that night thinking of loves and lighthouses. That one love might shine to bring all loves home.”
~Jamie O’Neill

Rob has to work both Saturday and Sunday and we are pulling out on Monday, so today was our last official day to enjoy the Outer Banks. There are many places we still would like to see, but we decided to head south so we could snap a few pictures of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The last time we drove by it was dark so we figured seeing it in the daylight was a must. At 198 feet, Cape Hatteras is the tallest lighthouse in America. Its main purpose was to warn southbound ships to head east in order to miss the Diamond Shoals.

We were able to visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse when we took the ferry to Ocracoke last month. There was an orange tabby cat from one of the neighboring houses who accompanied us along the walkway. He was even kind enough to pose on the sidewalk for me. Ocracoke is not as easy to get to so we only visited the one time. We had planned a second visit because we had heard about some amazing shells on the beach, we just ran out of time.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is just down the road from us so we drive by it all the time. We can see it from our RV pad and watch as it lights the night sky with its beacon. I became obsessed with trying to get a picture of this lighthouse with the sunset because it was always so beautiful. Unfortunately I never managed to get it right. I have never been good at low-light shots, and this just proves it. I still tried, though, and my failed attempts at capturing its beauty will simply remind me of how amazing it truly was.

When we arrived here at the beginning of the year we felt like we had so much time to explore the area, and while I do think we experienced much more than we would have had we only come for a short vacation, I know that there is so much we missed. Time goes by so fast, even when it does not feel like it, and here we are just a few short days from our departure and I find myself wondering where all the time has gone. I do know that we have all thoroughly enjoyed our time here, and the memories we made will not soon be forgotten…

Sunday Snapshot

I am trying not to bore you too much with all the beach pictures, but we will be leaving soon and I feel the need to soak it up as much as possible. This has been one of the most relaxing and enjoyable places we have had the privilege of visiting.

Charbie and I head out together almost every morning in search of sunshine, shells, exercise and a daily conversation with the big blue ocean. I am not much of a morning person, but I have experienced some breathtakingly beautiful mornings out on the beach. This morning was one of those special days where I felt as if I were in the right place at the right time, and even the dreary, rainy afternoon could not take away from my picture perfect morning on the beach. DSC_0711 2014-16-03 16-30-

Hangin’ with the Fishes

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I know that bad weather is to be expected in winter, but this entire week has been downright nasty. It has been grey, cold, rainy and very, very windy. We have spent the week hunkering down, trying not to blow away. Today we really needed to get out of the house, though, so we went over to the aquarium.

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We spent a good few hours hanging with the fishes and petting the sting rays and sea urchins. We were even there at feeding time for the sting rays and it was fun to watch them eat. Nathan was a little disappointed that the sea turtle habitat was under construction, but there were several other turtles for him to admire. There were sea otters and a couple of alligators and lots and lots of different kinds of fish. They even had several sharks, which everyone found fascinating.  

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We were very excited to find that the wind was still whipping when we left the aquarium. We really should be used to the wind, having spent a few years on the West Plains of Spokane, Washington and then a couple more years in Great Falls, Montana, both places being extremely windy, but we never seem to get used to it. And while we can handle the cold and the rain and the grey skies, Rob and I both find ourselves cursing at the wind. Not that it does any good, but perhaps it makes us feel just a little bit better…

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Of course tonight the wind is still howling and Waldo is really rocking, and it is loud. Very, very loud. But tomorrow the sun is supposed to come out and the wind should calm down by the afternoon. We have heard from many locals that winter here is not normally this bad. I am not sure if we should feel privileged to have experienced such an uncharacteristically miserable winter, or cheated that we missed out on a normally pleasant one. Either way, I am ready for it to be over.

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Catching the Ferry

On Valentine’s Day, since it was such a beautiful day and we were all up for a drive, we decided to head down the road to catch the ferry to Ocracoke. We were planning on taking the 11am ferry, but we were too late. In fact, we arrived just in time to miss the noon ferry, as well. So, due to our lack of punctuality, we found ourselves waiting for the 2pm ferry.

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The ferry workers are quite skilled at packing all of the vehicles in like sardines. We rode with multiple cars, pick-up trucks, a couple of boats, a school bus loaded with a sports team, a triple-axle (oh my!) 5th wheel and who knows what else. I was amazed at just how much they could pack onto the ferry.

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It was a windy day, as seems to be the case around here, and we all stood out and enjoyed the salty breeze. We bumped into the family from the 5th wheel and found out that they were also from Montana. And, it turns out, a mere 20 miles from where Rob grew up. Apparently it really is a small world after all.

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Being the off season in Ocracoke, not much was open, but we stopped into the visitor’s center and went to see the lighthouse. We ate dinner at a seafood restaurant where the kids were brave enough to try oysters. It was quite comical to watch, the faces of the twins were priceless. William is the only one who likes oysters besides Rob. (I am not brave enough to even try them.) We arrived back at the ferry dock about an hour early, and by the time we were loaded up at 6:30pm, it was dark. It was a strange sensation moving at night but not being able to see anything except for the occasional lighted buoy.

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Rob heard on the fishing report the other day that the beaches down in Ocracoke are covered with shells, probably because the tourists are not there to snatch them all up. We would really like to go back down within the next couple of weeks, partly to see if we can find any neat shells, and partly because we would like to have a little more time to spend there.

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My parents love Ocracoke and a couple of years ago they sent the kids each a t-shirt. And today when were folding laundry, Nathan held up his t-shirt and said, “Hey! We’ve been here!” Yes, my dear, we sure have.